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San Diego Drug Crimes Attorney

EXPERIENCED, AGGRESSIVE LEGAL REPRESENTATION

Drug offenses are one of the most widely prosecuted crimes in California and constitute a large percentage of cases in Federal courts. At George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates, our San Diego drug crimes attorney zealously defend our clients against drug charges of every type, ranging from simple possession to large-scale drug trafficking. As a former prosecutor and now seasoned San Diego drug crimes attorney, George H. Ramos, Jr. utilizes his insight and extensive experience in criminal law to aggressively advocate on behalf of his clients. His thorough knowledge of both sides of the criminal justice system provides him with the unique ability to anticipate the prosecution’s case and exploit it’s deficiencies to your advantage.

The consequences of a drug offense conviction widely vary, from probation to lengthy prison sentences, depending on the type and quantity of drugs, and your prior criminal record. You’ll need an experienced San Diego drug crimes lawyer to help in this difficult situation. At George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates, we start negotiations with the prosecution as soon as possible to help minimize or eliminate the consequences of criminal charges. But for this to happen, you must act quickly. Contact us today for the experienced, aggressive representation that you deserve. Our law office caters to the Spanish-speaking community as well as our office is bilingual.

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How Much Does Hiring a Drug Crimes Attorney Cost?

You might know you need a drug crimes attorney to help you fight charges, but you aren’t sure if you can afford one. Unless your lawyer charges a flat fee per hour, several factors can determine the final cost of hiring a private defense lawyer for a drug crimes case. First, your income. If you are a low-income individual or family, you’ll qualify for a free or low-cost public defender. The court will appoint this lawyer to you. Note, however, that public defenders often take many cases at once and will not dedicate 100% of his or her time and attention to your case. Second, the complexity of your case.

If fighting your drug crime charge requires in-depth investigations and hiring experts, this can increase the cost of your attorney. Since your lawyer will have to pay for these outside assistants, he or she will pass these costs on to you. Many drug crimes require expert witnesses, such as a chemical testing professional, to try to invalidate a prosecution’s evidence or case against the defendant. Most expert witnesses and investigators charge around $2,000 as a retainer, and an average of $300 per hour.

The attorney you choose can also determine the cost of services. A more experienced drug crime lawyer may cost more, but he or she can resolve your case faster than less-experienced attorneys. Lawyers who charge flat rates often start at $1,500 and increase from there. If you go to trial, the flat rate can automatically increase to $3,000-$5,000. The more serious the drug crime, the costlier the flat rate. Be cautious of going with an hourly rate if you have a complex case, as even fees as low as $150 an hour can add up to thousands with a slow, inexperienced attorney.

Most lawyers will charge more for services the more complex your drug crime case. If your case goes to trial, this is something else that can increase the costs of representation. Since each case is unique, contact a lawyer for specific pricing information for your individual defense. Consultations with the San Diego drug possession lawyers at George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates are always free.

Is the Cost of Hiring a Drug Attorney a Good Value?

The decision to hire a drug crimes lawyer ultimately comes down to what your freedom is worth to you. Since most defense lawyers will work with clients to figure out payment plans and other ways to make services more affordable, it’s up to you if you think the cost is worth the value. Due to the serious nature of drug crimes in California, it’s important to retain a good private lawyer if you can. Otherwise, you could risk a lifetime of criminal consequences. Unless you have a legal background or have a great deal of faith in your public defender, hire a private attorney.

Drug crimes in San Diego can lead to years or even life in prison, fines of $500 to tens of thousands of dollars, mandatory drug treatment or education courses, community service requirements, probation, the loss of your job, and many other negative consequences. A drug crime conviction can follow you around for life, making it difficult to find a job or steady housing. Instead of resigning yourself to the fate of a convict, fight your charges aggressively with help from a private attorney.

Don’t let the cost of a defense lawyer prevent you from obtaining the best possible representation for your drug crimes case. After all, the costs you could face with a serious conviction could amount to much more than the price of your lawyer. Think of it as an investment in your future. Instead of ruining your chances of a good job or education with a drug crime conviction on your record, pay for an attorney now and avoid lifelong financial losses. Spending the money on a high-quality defense attorney today may save you thousands overall.

Understanding Drug Schedules

One of the first things to know about your drug crime charge in California is the schedule of the drug involved. A drug “schedule” is a category according to the seriousness of the drug. The federal government has created five distinct drug schedules based on each substance’s accepted medical use (if any) and the potential for abuse and addiction. Schedule I drugs are the most serious, and Schedule V is the least. Here are basic definitions for each schedule:

  1. Schedule I. Schedule I drugs and chemicals have no accepted medical use and high propensity for psychological or physical dependency. Examples include marijuana, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote.
  2. Schedule II. These substances have a high potential for abuse, but a lesser potential than Schedule I drugs. The federal government considers these drugs “dangerous.” Examples include cocaine, Vicodin, methamphetamine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and Ritalin.
  3. Schedule III. Schedule III drugs have a moderate to low risk for dependency. Examples include testosterone, anabolic steroids, ketamine, and combination substances with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dose.
  4. Schedule IV. Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for substance dependency and abuse. They involve many prescription medications. Examples include Xanax, Valium, Ambien, Soma, Darvon, and Tramadol.
  5. Schedule V. These are the least dangerous substances, with the lowest potential for abuse and dependency. Consumers often use Schedule V drugs to treat diarrhea or for antitussive or analgesic purposes. Examples include Robitussin, Lyrica, and Lomotil.

In general, law violations involving Schedule I substances will come with heftier penalties than Schedule V substances. The classification of the drug can go a long way toward deciding the criminal consequences of possessing, using, or selling the substance in California.

Common Defenses to Drug Crime Charges in California

It takes an experienced attorney to successfully defend against drug-related criminal charges in San Diego. Illicit drugs are a major problem throughout California. The penalties for breaking the law can be severe, to punish the defendant and teach others in the community a lesson about drug use. Your lawyer may be able to use a defense strategy to help your case and reduce or dismiss the charges against you. Common defenses include:

  • Unlawful search and seizure. As an American citizen, you have the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. Police officers must comply with certain rules to lawfully search an individual or his/her property for illegal substances. The officer needs permission, probable cause to perform the search or to obtain a search warrant. Otherwise, the courts might not allow any drugs or evidence the officer might find want to act as evidence. For instance, a DUI attorney would argue for the case to be dismissed if there was no probable cause for the officer to stop a driver.
  • Lack of ownership. Proving the drugs weren’t yours can result in the courts dropping the charges. It is up to the prosecution to prove you are in fact the owner of the drugs, even if they found the substance in your home or vehicle. You might be able to claim the drugs found weren’t yours, or you didn’t know they were on your property.
  • Crime lab evidence. The prosecution must send any alleged illegal drugs to crime labs for analysis before submitting them as evidence. You might have possessed a substance that resembled a drug but was actually something legal. In other cases, the crime lab or arresting officer might not be able to produce the actual drugs for the court case.

The defense strategy appropriate for you will depend upon the specifics of your arrest and criminal charges. Our lawyers will work hard to create an aggressive, strategic plan ideally suited for your case and goals. We’ll help you see the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how serious the drug charges are against you.

CALIFORNIA DRUG OFFENSES

Our San Diego drug crimes lawyer represents clients who are facing felony and misdemeanor narcotics charges involving marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamines (crystal meth), prescription drugs, heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), or other controlled substances, including:

DRUG POSSESSION:

California criminalizes not only the possession of illegal drugs but also the possession of prescription drugs by persons to whom the drugs are not prescribed. Under Health and Safety Code 11350, it is illegal to possess narcotics such as cocaine, crack, heroin, ecstasy, ketamine, and GHB as well as prescription drugs such as Vicodin or Codeine when done so without a prescription. Health and Safety Code 11377 criminalizes the possession of methamphetamine, more commonly known as crystal meth.

Drug possession crimes in California are classified as infractions, misdemeanors, felonies, or wobblers (crimes that may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony). The classification of a possession crime may have a substantial effect on sentencing. In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, downgrading these possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors for certain offenders. Prop 47 may also be retroactively applied to those currently serving sentences for such offenses. For more information on Proposition 47, please read below.

POSSESSION WITH THE INTENT TO SELL:

Under Health and Safety Code 11351, it is illegal to possess narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, and GHB, as well as certain prescription drugs such as Vicodin and Codeine, with the intent to sell the controlled substance. Health and Safety Code 11378 criminalizes the possession of other illegal drugs such as methamphetamine (crystal meth), with the intent to sell the controlled substance. These offenses are deemed felonies and carry a heavier penalty than simple possession. However, just because you’ve been arrested, it doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted.

To be convicted of one of these offenses, the prosecution must prove not only possession of the controlled substance, but also that the individual knew of its presence, knew that the substance was an illegal drug, possessed enough of the illegal drug to sell for consumption, and intended to sell it. Many variables are considered when assessing whether an individual possessed a controlled substance with the intent to sell, including the presence of weight measurement tools (scales), packaging supplies (baggies), large sums of cash, weapons, and the quantity of the controlled substance confiscated.

Often times individuals are charged with intent to sell offenses, when, in fact, possession was only for personal use. Because these offenses do not qualify for Proposition 36 or PC 1000 drug diversion, you do not want to be wrongfully charged. At George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates, our San Diego drug charges lawyer works around the clock to exploit the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and make sure that a wrongful conviction does not happen to you.

DRUG TRAFFICKING OR DISTRIBUTION:

It is a felony in California to transport, import into the state, sell, furnish, administer or give away narcotics such as cocaine and heroin under Health and Safety Code 11352 as well as other controlled substances such as methamphetamines under Health and Safety Code 11379.

Many sale charges are the result of undercover sting operations as well as police surveillance in high-crime neighborhoods. Transportation charges do not require personal possession and often times are the result of traffic stops where drugs are found somewhere in the vehicle or in the possession of one of the passengers.

These offenses are vulnerable to a number of defenses related to the manner in which the evidence was obtained and violations of your constitutional rights. At George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates, protecting your rights is our number one priority.

DRUG MANUFACTURING:

Health and Safety Code 11379.6 make it a felony to manufacture, compound, convert, produce, derive, process, or prepare a controlled substance by chemical extraction or chemical synthesis such as operating a meth lab. Convictions under this code carry the most severe penalties of all California’s drug laws. With a possible sentence of up to 7 years in state prison and a $50,000 fine, you do not want to be convicted of this offense. You’ll need an experienced, aggressive drug manufacturing lawyer on your side. Contact us today for the drug crimes defense you need and deserve.

Federal Drug Arrests

According to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), there were 31,027 domestic DEA arrests in 2015, up from 30,035 in 2014. Despite massive efforts, drug-related offenses and arrests continue to occur across the country. George Ramos is a skilled drug crime defense lawyer with over 20 years of experience.

DEA Domestic Arrests

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Source: DEA.gov

PROPOSITION 47

On November 5, 2014, Proposition 47, also known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act”, went into effect. The Act mandates misdemeanors instead of felonies for particular non-serious, nonviolent crimes, but only applies to certain offenders. In order to for this measure to apply, individuals must not have prior convictions for certain specified violent or serious crimes. The drug crimes that fall under Prop 47’s required misdemeanor sentencing include:

  • Health and Safety Code 11350—Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Health and Safety Code 11357(a)—Possession of Concentrated Cannabis
  • Health and Safety Code 11377—Possession of a Controlled Substance

Proposition 47 may also be utilized by those already serving sentences for the possession crimes listed. If applicable, those individuals currently serving sentences for these drug possession crimes are entitled to petition the sentencing court for a sentence reduction and may also be eligible for immediate release. Prop 47 resentencing, however, does require a thorough review of criminal history, and prior to resentencing, the court will perform a risk assessment to ensure that the individual does not pose a risk to public safety. Petitions may also be filed by those individuals whom have already completed their sentences for a recall of sentence in trial court. All petitions must be filed within three years of when Prop 47 went into effect, though they maybe be filed later upon a showing of good cause.

Don’t let a felony conviction stand in the way of your future. Contact our San Diego drug crimes lawyer today to find out whether you or a loved one are eligible for a sentence reduction under Proposition 47. Our office can cater to the Spanish-speaking community for our law office is bilingual.

“Within a matter of 3 days, he got the charge completely rejected. I did not have to go to court and I will have nothing on my record. He is amazing, he promptly responds to your calls and emails to answer any questions you have.” – Jennifer A.

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Our San Diego Crime Defense Firm serves clients throughout Southern California including Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, and neighboring communities.